Magazine article Variety

Ly Talks about 'Les Miserables'

Magazine article Variety

Ly Talks about 'Les Miserables'

Article excerpt

DIRECTOR LADJ LY never expected his first narrative feature, "Les Miserables," to be selected for official competition at the Cannes Film Festival, but the filmmaker, whose mission is to capture the reality of the Paris suburbs, is understandably thrilled about the surprise.

"I thought maybe there was a small, small chance of getting into the Directors' Fortnight, but the Competition - wow!" he says. The 39-year-old filmmaker was signed by CAA as the festival got off the ground Tuesday.

Anyone who thinks the story is a retelling of the Victor Hugo classic would be mistaken. But there's a reason it shares the same title: Part of the book takes place in Montfermeil, the working-classic suburb where Ly grew up. "A century later, there's still misery in this area," Ly says. "Police violence remains a factor."

Although getting "Les Miserables" into Competition represents a major jump forward in visibility, Ly has spent the past 22 years trying to bring attention to the conditions in areas such as Montfermeil. Now, with a sputtering economy and widespread protests in France, he thinks audiences might finally be ready to listen. Ly talked to Variety about his film just before arriving in Cannes for its premiere Wednesday

"Les Miserables," about three members of an anti-crime brigade who confront tensions between neighborhood gangs, started out as a Cesar-winning short film. It was inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, incorporating several real-life moments, such as the drone footage capturing the events. …

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